Cover image for Some memories of a long life, 1854-1911
Title:
Some memories of a long life, 1854-1911
Author:
Harlan, Malvina Shanklin, 1838-1916.
Edition:
Modern Library edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Modern Library, 2002.
Physical Description:
xviii, 270 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 20 cm
General Note:
Originally published in 2001 in Journal of Supreme Court history.
Language:
English
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780679642626
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library KF8745.H3 H37 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

The wife of Supreme Court justice John Marshall Harlan describes such seminal events as the Civil War, the end of slavery, and various Supreme Court decisions influenced by her own everyday life and that of her family.


Author Notes

Malvina Shanklin Harlan (1838-1916) was the wife of Supreme Court justice John Marshall Harlan and the grandmother of the second Supreme Court justice John Marshal Harlan. Born in Indiana, she died in Washington in 1916.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

This publisher has wisely brought to light a never-before-published memoir that languished for many years in the Library of Congress. Malvina Shanklin Harlan was the wife of John Marshall Harlan of Kentucky, a U.S. Supreme Court Justice of note who served on that preeminent bench from 1877 to 1911. Her penned recollections are the story of her married life, beginning with the year she met her husband and ending with the year he died. Remembered here are border-state politics and racial attitudes that existed before the Civil War and emancipation as well as the domestic side of life as led in high-society Washington, D.C., during the last decades of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth. From the dusty archives where it lay forgotten for so long, her memoir emerges as an important social document--an accurate reflection of the manners and mores of the writer's time, place, and milieu. --Brad Hooper


Publisher's Weekly Review

These memoirs by the wife of a noted Supreme Court justice, John Marshall Harlan, first appeared last summer in the Journal of Supreme Court History and gained considerable attention thanks to Ruth Bader Ginsburg's enthusiastic support. Now they are being made available in a popular edition complete with foreword by Ginsburg (not seen by PW) and extensive notes by Przybyszewski. Justice Harlan, though a former slave-holder, is remembered for his lone and eloquent dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson, the case that established the doctrine of "separate but equal." His wife's recollections of her married life shed considerable light on the complexities inherent in race relations in America and help explain such an apparent contradiction. Mrs. Harlan was a conventional woman; she shared the unreflecting assumptions of white superiority and wifely subordination common to her class. Indeed her decision, at 50, to visit Italy without her husband's express permission was so uncharacteristic that it went down in family annals as "Mother's Revolt," while her portraits of the slaves in her father-in-law's household, though well intentioned, will produce nothing but deep embarrassment in the contemporary reader. Nevertheless, she stood squarely behind her husband's dissent. No visionary, Malvina Harlan was a thoroughly nice woman who behaved as she knew she should. Her journals will most interest students of the period. Photos not seen by PW. (May) Forecast: Clearly, Modern Library is counting on the clout of Justice Ginsburg's name to help sell the book, as the announced first printing of 75,000 copies attests. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

This is the sort of book you call a publishing event. It is a recently unearthed memoir by the wife of Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan, graced with a foreword by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Courtship and Marriage One day during the late summer of 1853 in Evansville, Indiana, a small but growing town in the Southwestern part of the State-a young girl of fifteen, suffering from some slight affection of the eyes, had been confined by the physician's orders to a darkened room. Happening at the moment to peep through a narrow crack of the almost closed window-shutters she saw a young man passing by. As she had lived all her life in that small town and was familiar with almost every face in it, she knew at once that he was a stranger. That was sixty-one years ago; but, as clearly as if it were yesterday, she can still see him as he looked that day-his magnificent figure, his head erect, his broad shoulders well thrown back-walking as if the whole world belonged to him. On the sixth of the following February, 1854, she was invited to take supper with the family of Dr. J. G. Hatchitt,1 a young physician living in the block beyond her father's residence. To her surprise, as she sat talking to her hostess, a young man-with a rope to each arm, as he "played horsey" for the little nephew that was the delightful and uproarious Jehu-suddenly pranced into the room. The young girl at once recognized him as the interesting stranger who had caught her eye six months before, as she peeped through the narrow crack of her window-shutters, and whom, after the romantic style of that period, she had (to herself) called "A Prince of the Blood." Very much amused and yet covered with manly confusion, at thus being caught by a strange young girl in the act of "playing the boy," the young man who proved to be John Marshall Harlan, of Frankfort, Kentucky, and a brother of the hostess (Elizabeth Harlan)-was duly presented to "Miss Malvina Shanklin." His conversation during that evening greatly interested the young girl, showing unusual thought and intelligence for a youth of only twenty-one, and that night he escorted her home. As was her custom, being an only daughter, she went straight to her mother's room to tell her "all about" the very pleasant acquaintance she had just made. She showed so much enthusiasm in her description of him that her mother,2 after listening awhile to her girlish outburst, said, in a very dry, decided and matter-of-fact tone: "You have talked quite enough about a young man whom you have only seen for an hour or two; now, you can go up to your room. Good night." During the next week, a daily call from this new friend gave me a new interest in life; and at the end of the week, before he left for his Kentucky home, to my great surprise he asked me to be his wife. "Does the course of true love ever run smoothly?" Considering the strain put upon it in this case, where disenchantment might so easily have followed, I can say that for me it did. A Mischievous Brother's Prank In my memory of those first days of courtship, one absurdly embarrassing incident stands out very vividly. At that time I had three brothers3 living-one of them my senior by three years, the other two being a few years younger. My oldest brother was a great tease and, as the only sister, I was often the victim of his harmless practical jokes. Excerpted from Some Memories of a Long Life, 1854-1911 by Malvina Shanklin Harlan All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Courtship and Marriage One day during the late summer of 1853 in Evansville, Indiana, a small but growing town in the Southwestern part of the State-a young girl of fifteen, suffering from some slight affection of the eyes, had been confined by the physician's orders to a darkened room.
Happening at the moment to peep through a narrow crack of the almost closed window-shutters she saw a young man passing by. As she had lived all her life in that small town and was familiar with almost every face in it, she knew at once that he was a stranger.
That was sixty-one years ago; but, as clearly as if it were yesterday, she can still see him as he looked that day-his magnificent figure, his head erect, his broad shoulders well thrown back-walking as if the whole world belonged to him.
On the sixth of the following February, 1854, she was invited to take supper with the family of Dr. J. G. Hatchitt,1 a young physician living in the block beyond her father's residence. To her surprise, as she sat talking to her hostess, a young man-with a rope to each arm, as he "played horsey" for the little nephew that was the delightful and uproarious Jehu-suddenly pranced into the room. The young girl at once recognized him as the interesting stranger who had caught her eye six months before, as she peeped through the narrow crack of her window-shutters, and whom, after the romantic style of that period, she had (to herself) called "A Prince of the Blood." Very much amused and yet covered with manly confusion, at thus being caught by a strange young girl in the act of "playing the boy," the young man who proved to be John Marshall Harlan, of Frankfort, Kentucky, and a brother of the hostess (Elizabeth Harlan)-was duly presented to "Miss Malvina Shanklin." His conversation during that evening greatly interested the young girl, showing unusual thought and intelligence for a youth of only twenty-one, and that night he escorted her home.
As was her custom, being an only daughter, she went straight to her mother's room to tell her "all about" the very pleasant acquaintance she had just made. She showed so much enthusiasm in her description of him that her mother,2 after listening awhile to her girlish outburst, said, in a very dry, decided and matter-of-fact tone: "You have talked quite enough about a young man whom you have only seen for an hour or two; now, you can go up to your room. Good night." During the next week, a daily call from this new friend gave me a new interest in life; and at the end of the week, before he left for his Kentucky home, to my great surprise he asked me to be his wife. "Does the course of true love ever run smoothly?" Considering the strain put upon it in this case, where disenchantment might so easily have followed, I can say that for me it did.
A Mischievous Brother's Prank In my memory of those first days of courtship, one absurdly embarrassing incident stands out very vividly.
At that time I had three brothers3 living-one of them my senior by three years, the other two being a few years younger. My oldest brother was a great tease and, as the only sister, I was often the victim of his harmless practical jokes.
From the Hardcover edition.

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